What Is It?
Debuting at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show alongside the 228i coupe, the 2014 BMW M235i is the outlaw of the redesigned 2 Series family. Thanks to a twin-scroll turbocharger, its 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder serves up 322 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which is good for a 0-to-60 miles per hour sprint of just 4.8 seconds with the 8-speed automatic (5.0 seconds with the optional 6-speed manual). But straight-line acceleration is just the beginning. As the heir to the outgoing 135is model's throne, the M235i packs maximum performance into the pint-sized 2 Series platform, including numerous handling enhancements that should make it a force to contend with on the track.
Compared to the 4-cylinder 228i, the 2014 BMW M235i adds an exterior body kit, 18-inch M wheels (19s are available) with wider rear tires, variable-ratio sport steering, an M Sport braking system, an adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers, sport seats and an exclusive instrument cluster. Additionally, an M Performance mechanical limited-slip differential will be offered as an accessory, making the M235i a drift fanatic's dream. Although the M235i is much more expensive than the old 135i, its track-ready hardware makes it more comparable to the 135is, which was only $475 less in 2013.
Like the 228i, the M235i puts the 1 Series' interior cost-cutting measures in its rearview, featuring upgraded materials fully worthy of the BMW badge. Rear-seat space has also improved, rendering the larger 2 Series a viable alternative to the pricier, heavier 4 Series. The formerly optional iDrive infotainment system is now standard, though if you don't like the entry-level 6.5-in screen, the 8.8-in widescreen is available only with the optional navigation system. As with the 228i, other technology features include a self-parking system and full smartphone integration with Facebook and Twitter compatibility.
The M235i will start at $44,950, with options expected to punt it past the $50,000 threshold.
When Can You Get It?
First quarter 2014
Add It to Your Shopping List Because...
You like the idea of M3-grade performance without the M3 price tag. The 2014 BMW M235i has the added advantage of compact dimensions, which make it feel more nimble -- and thus more exploitable -- on tight roads.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi S3 -- The high-performance version of the A3 sedan isn't quite as wild as the M235i, but it may be more refined.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG -- The 355-hp CLA 45 delivers truly bonkers acceleration if that's what you're after, though its front-wheel-drive chassis makes it less capable for experienced drivers.
Volkswagen GTI -- The 2015 GTI is fast enough to make M235i shoppers think twice, particularly with its superior hatchback versatility at barely half the price. Check out the higher-performance Golf R, as well.
Used BMW 135i -- A certified pre-owned 135i (or 135is, if you can find one) provides largely the same performance at a big discount.